The Rev. Dr. Charles Evanson led the Daily Offices of Matins and Vespers during the conference.
After a two-year absence, the Baltic Lutheran Pastoral Theological Conference resumed this year in Palanga, Lithuania. Speakers and attendees came from partner churches in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The conferences were sponsored by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania with support from the LCMS Office of Church Relations.
It was the first major conference to take place in the new diaconal center in the Palanga Lutheran Church. The center and church were consecrated on July 14 this past summer.
The purpose of the conference is to provide continuing theological education for pastors in the Baltics, and fellowship among participants. The conference intentionally blended academic and practical themes on theological education and pastoral practice.
Speakers at the conference covered a range of topics, from the history of the local Lutheran church to the present-day ministry opportunities and challenges they have.
The Rev. Dr. Guntis Kalme, a pastor from the Latvian Lutheran church, spoke about Rev. Dr. Roberts Feldmanis, who was a spiritual father of the Latvian Lutheran Church as it survived the Soviet repression and entered the turn of the century with the rise of religious freedom. As a foreign missionary to India, parish pastor, church historian, liturgist and prisoner for the faith, he had a profound influence upon today’s generation of Latvian pastors.
A Lithuanian pastor shared his experience with pastoral care in women’s prisons. Rev. Arvydas Malinauskas said, “I go to prison after Sunday divine service to hold worship in prison for about 30 women. Once or twice a week I visit them to speak about everyday matters. We need to accept people behind bars with compassion and mercy.”
The Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, director of international theological education for the LCMS, spoke about “Theological Education in International Mission.” Quill gave an overview of profound changes in theological education introduced at the beginning of the 1960s. He went on to describe the major external and internal challenges and opportunities in theological education. An ongoing challenge for all seminaries involves pastoral formation that is both academically rigorous and shapes the pastoral, spiritual character and life of the students.